Monday, July 31, 2017

Jardin du Luxembourg

Sunday and we decide the to go to Jardin du Luxembourg, Garden of Luxembourg. I've not done any real research on it, just enjoyed going, if you are interested here you go

Beautiful, my favourite!
It’s about a 30 block walk there and 30 blocks back straight down Rue Vaugirard, outside our apartment, longest street in Paris, and by the time we were done walking back and forth it felt like it! Lots to see along the way though.

Wonderful tree, looks like it's dancing to me.
The garden itself is huge, but not like gardens we are used to in Canada. Being from there, when you say “garden” I expect flowers, lots of flowers, not so here. Maybe we missed the portion with more flowers, easy to do in such a large space, after all we didn't even see the palace!

This fellow is drunk on wine and the others are trying to get him on his horse.
There are flowers around all the statues but there is also a tennis court, sizeable children’s play area and lots of grassy areas that people are not supposed to walk on. Many, many, statues of famous people. 

This "fellow" was called The Poet, looks more like a musician to me.
Before getting there we stopped for a restorative lunch of apricot crepe for Bruce and omelette for me at Madame, where they politely say “they serve men too”. The two places we’ve had an omelette show us that, at least in those places, they do know how to cook an omelette well.

This is the dome to the palace, we didn't get there...
Back to the garden and truthfully it was lovely, trees were old, large and various in species, worth going just for them.

No idea who this person is...
People were certainly enjoying themselves, many joggers, you heard them running on the gravel, people propped up or laying across the numerous metal chairs along the paths, many reading a book or just sunbathing. It’s a lovely restful space in the middle of this large city.

And another 

Liked her almost "Mona Lisa" smile and period dress
There was even a statue of Liberty, another model for the final one sent to New York. 

I’d planned to take the bus back, bad plan, street is both one way, the wrong way to get me back and all torn up in many places. While it looked doable on the bus map, it wasn’t, my poor short legs were extremely tired arriving home. A good day overall there was a breeze and wasn’t too hot or cold for that matter. 

Bruce has looked up the Eiffel tower which I wish I’d taken a shot of from a tree lined boulevard with it at the end in full glory, sorry, didn’t but it’s about half the distance to walk, which means we can walk there and take another boat tour! Just now my thought! Yippee, that was great last year even in the rain.

It is Monday and many of the shops are closed, they do open half day Sunday so we'll wait until tomorrow to see which ones are on holidays, usually for the month. They leave in droves to the south of France and the roadways, called Black Saturday, in the news, are grid locked.  

Cheers, Bev, Bruce and Lexi Cat

Friday, July 21, 2017

We are now in Paris

Here's the picture of the free wheeling lawn mower, previous post, liked the gate also or wouldn't have bothered showing it.
I wondered why my hair stylist in Rieselfeld looked familiar, her name is Angelika, went to her again and realized she looks like Pauline Collins, who played Shirley Valentine! Quite a resemblance really. She also has a great sense of humour.

Dawna and Erwin were in town getting ready to move into the flat. We had lunch with them and then went to the flat for the usual champers and chat. They’ve been to the South of France and had driven over 5000 kilometres visiting their favourite cities and towns. They both really love the countryside in that area and so get around as much as possible to see it. 

We’re now in Paris, left Freiburg 06:52, early! Taxi came, we got escorted to the fast train and 3.5 hours later we’re in Paris. It worked out fine, almost easier really. Countryside is rolling hills, pastures, saw fields of canola, yellow, and a field of sunflowers, both are grown to be pressed into oil. I saw Charolais, read white cattle herds, and it’s still really green, especially pretty between Dijon (yes the mustard city) and Paris.

Second Taxi driver was nice too, traffic terrible, he said by this time of year when Parisians go on holiday it’s usually lighter, but not yet. We went past Museo D’orsey, Notre Dame Cathedral, a building that has a gold coloured dome housing many things but what I remember is the Military Museum. I told him we were on the Right Bank last year, he said there is always a question of which Bank is better. Air conditioning to Bruce worked well, many of these roller taxis are only air-conditioned in the front and being vans, windows don’t open often. 

Neil, the fellow who cleans for Joan our host, was here to greet us and show me household things. He calls me mam Beverley so I’ll have to ask what country he comes from, maybe born Parisian but he calls Joan Mam Mrs Kroenig, I’ll ask. So we basically dropped our bags, did a shop close by and then found a cafe to have a bite of lunch at Le General Beuret. Food and drink are more expensive here, hadn’t remembered that.

Look closely, this is a vegetable duck! Well done I think, posted outside a grocery store, natch.
Now the elevator is broken, one of two so we’re not stuck, but what is it with us and faulty elevators? Anyway the flat is fine, smallish but fine. She has a complete garden on the patio that stretches from the dining room to the bedroom. Really done a nice job on it for a small space.

Went out again for a bite of dinner, I had contacted Joan about the elevator and she recommended cafe Les Ecrivains (means the Writers) so we went and it was great! 

We’re both feeling a bit train lagged, is there such a thing? Not likely due to the journey, just the ungodly hour it left with us on it, early night for us both.

Mini-rant to hosts of Airbnb - things that are rarely provided so I’m not targeting any one host here and some may be due to cultural differences.

Clean cloths for both bathroom and kitchen
Paper towel
Hangers for clothing
Garbage bags
Ice cube trays
Not, everyone who’s stayed there before's, left over shampoo/conditioner
Give us a drawer, preferably two for things like pants and underwear that don’t hang
Give us a proper drying rack when you have a clothes washing machine and at least a couple of soaps to start, so one can get the brand name preferred for the washer.

That’s about it and pretty minor in life but niggling anyway. We shop for the above things and I had a brilliant idea (I know bragging but I’m going with it.) There are no drawers for clothing here, and that’s common with these apartments see above, so I bought a large hard plastic grocery bag, put all our underwear in it and hung it in the closet. This apartment is fine, but when we moved in yesterday we were both quite frustrated I think. Mini-rant over. 

Joan loves woven baskets, they are everywhere, really nice ones, different sizes for different things. It is quite similar to Linda’s apartment in Brussels in that she as an eclectic mix of decor from all over Europe including some antiques. 

On the dining table, the tandoori oven cover holds napkins, great use!
Wall decoration is just as eclectic, large posters of bull fight advertisements from Sevilla and Bilboa, family photos, advertisements several years old, lots of mirrors, it really is a mix but also works here. 

Poster from the 1959 movie Some Like it Hot with Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemon
It is small but comfortable. The difference is this place has everything crammed into a space that is less than half Linda’s is. Joan teaches music to children. 

Bowsprit (had to ask Bruce what it is called)

Titanic - really?
Received an email from Augustina asking how the journey was, she’s so thoughtful and sends God’ blessings to us. If you know us at all you know we are not religious people but somehow when she says that it is very comforting somehow to me anyway. 

Second full day here, there is a wet/dry clothes cleaner right across the street so we took some shirts to him. Expensive though, so I did buy a clothes dryer rack.

We wander further to find indoor markets! They are chock-o-block full of fresh everything, cheese, meat, fish, vegetable, fruit, Lebanese food, Japanese food, florists, bakeries (of course) there is even a Monoprix grocery store. I’ve been buying packaged salads from the Carrefour, no more! Although they are better than others I’ve had. There is so much selection available so close and fresher. 

Had lunch at Cafe Chastel, a local’s wine and coffee bar, had the best omelette ever! Passed one of the few cheese shops and Bruce wanted Stilton so we got him some at Androuet. Passed by Laurent Vincent Boucherie Lecourbe, a butchery on Rue Lecourbe and got three slices of cooked beef that looks wonderful but was really pricey, we’d better enjoy that as a treat and it is. This section of town in the 15th district we discovered is like going to Granville Island in Vancouver. It will be difficult to choose what to buy and of course greedy me wants a bit of everything! As you’ve heard many times before, we were in foodie heaven today, even if mostly by eye rather than stomach.

Went back down to the shops again, wandered in a few, stopped at the Monoprix, large grocery chain. “Ate” at Au Roi Du Cafe, The King of the Cafe, nothing kingly about it really. My onion soup was cool, and when it was returned it, it had turned to mush under either the broiler or heaven forbid a microwave. Oh, and the waiter asked Bruce if he wanted the bill, that has never happened before in Europe, they wait until you ask for it letting you sit there as long as you want. I picked up some Lebanese food for take out.

That's our first few days in Paris, look for sequels. 

Cheers, Bx2 and Lexi Cat

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Mostly about Food! Yummy Food!

We went downtown to get the sleeves shortened on Bruce’s leather coat, back to the store he bought it from. The shop caters to tourists and locals too, they sell lederhosen and dirndls, the dirndls sell for between 70 and 100 Euros, didn't look at the price for lederhosen.

Found this little fellow outside the shop.

This is a water fountain, sun was at the wrong angle to get a better picture of it but the lions on top are great.
Stop at the Eis Cafe for an iced tea with lemon sherbet in it, yummy. The Munster markt has a number of large tents in it for the annual wine festival happening this week.

We used our air conditioner a few times, works well, should do because we get it serviced once a year. It’s a bit of a fiddle though, have to open up the winter garden door which requires a key at the bottom and a long rod with a whirly thing at the top, putting it back in place when turning off is not pleasant, hot and seems to take forever to line up the gismos.

English speaking day, I had a few errands to do so left early in the morning to avoid the heat. Went to the tobacco store for an update on our transit passes, Frank there speaks English, on to the Apoteka for meds, they speak English, Doctor, receptionist, fellow at the Edeka wants to move to Canada. All excellent English really, wow! 

We made southern fried chicken, I've never had it before and it was a treat! Bruce chose a spicy recipe with lots of herbs, cut the chicken into strips, mixed with herbs and buttermilk we made by adding 1/2 a lemon to regular milk, marinade for six hours, then drench the strips in herbed flour and fry. Not sure that’s how they did it in Driving Miss Daisy, but it worked for us. Tasty morsels that I dare say are fit to serve to company! A successful experiment, I would add a bit more spice, but good. 

Back to the Kaiserstuhl with Christoph for lunch at Gasthaus Bären, I order trout and it comes complete with head and tail, yikes!, immediately get rid of those so it isn’t staring at me. Tasty though, we’ve moved on from spargel season to pfifferling (mushrooms) season. Christoph said it was a rather insincere way now, for what it was originally intended, using up the mountains of produce they have in the season, not really relevant to today, but tradition. This Gasthaus is third generation run and the cooks, waiters all look alike. Grandma still works in the kitchen at 91 years old, still dying her hair, they are portly people. Good, simple, German food, cooked well on offer here. Seems to be a hiker’s stop, many people with walking poles stopped by.

Detail on the eaves of the house next door.
Back to Landerer winery for another tasting and buying more wine. The daughter served us this time until a large group came in. She has a great sense of humour and a bubbly personality. Sometimes they give us a bit large tastings and there are no spit buckets, we used a flowering plant to pour the extra into this time. That plant will likely do extra well on it’s wine offerings. They always give Christoph a free bottle of wine, this time we got one too. Bought two bottles of sparkling wine this trip, which have a very delicate flavour, doubt we’ll mix this with orange juice. 

We made Italian sausage, then into gravy and onto home made biscuits. Started with freshly minced pork, many spices, frozen until it could be cut easier. Bruce made the gravy which was milk and more spice, I made the biscuits and had to take the recipe off the internet since I couldn’t remember my mother’s but it came very, very close. Good, very filling and rich though, would serve smaller portions and a salad along side. 

I took that lovely orange/melon coloured tunic into the seamstress to get it altered, it’s too tight and she made suggestions. She has a very different way of dress but it works for her and found out she speaks English which she has been reluctant to do before. Making moderations to this tunic will either work or not but I cannot wear it as is so we’ll see. I think, Natalie is her name, is a creative person due to her creative dress so hoping she makes it into a garment I can wear. They have a limited supply of fabric there so limited choice. Update, it looks great!

We also made chili con queso, a dish Bruce used to make a lot. It contains onion, tomato, peppers (hot and sweet varieties), basil, celery and cheese, all boiled up together to produce yumminess. 

Dawna and Erwin came by Freiburg as a resting spot between the flight from Ottawa to Frankfurt, before going to the south of France. They rent a small house owned by a friend in a small village close to Nimes. Lovely visit as always! 

Saw these in a shop window, looks like they are having a grand time!
We started with our representative at the train ticket office but she had difficulty contacting the boarding help with the ramp in France so she’ll get back to us early next week.

Out with Christoph on Saturday and he gets the convertible this time, weather not conducive to have the top down unfortunately, windy going and raining as we came back, he admitted that there were fewer cars left, this was probably the last choice available. We went to Staufen as we have many times but tried a different restaurant this time called Fauststube Löwen. Food was considerably better than the place we have gone to before a few times, not that theirs is bad, this was just much better. 

This is a hotel that Faust was supposed to have done his alchemist experiments and died in. Faust is a legend of a person who sold his soul to the devil and there are many legends and stories about this “person”. Christoph knows of plays that have been done of him, there was a romance, and it seems there are two parts to the play, first one contains the romance and second rarely gets performed because of boredom, look it up if you are interested (or not) but I won’t go further on it.

The Saturday market was on and bustling, rain held off for our lunch and the market closed up almost immediately after, good timing! There were a couple of weddings also with parties drinking champagne in the square. The Rathaus or town hall is where people get married legally in Germany. In Heidelberg, us and others, would sit in the square on a Saturday afternoon and watch the wedding parties go by. Something uplifting about seeing that if you don’t go down the other cynical road of wondering how long the marriage will last…

Driving south of Freiburg is mainly small villages, viewed first by their church spires and through hectares of corn, wheat and on the hillsides, vines, it’s pretty in a different way than the Kaiserstuhl.  

Walking around the neighbourhood on Sunday again we see different things every time. 

Wet web, looks like lace!
Walked the laneways and you get a bit of look into how people live better than the main roads, but not peering into windows! 

Working fountain if you pump a lot.
Miniature John Deere digger, smaller version of what my Dad used.
Everyone loves flowers but Germans seem to take that to a higher degree with their potted plants on a windowsill or in the back yard. 

Parking places for cars are in what I would call sheds, open to the sides and no doors.

Don't know what this plant is, pretty though.
We also saw a roaming free standing lawnmower, same principle as the Rumba vacuum cleaner. It just moseyed around the lawn cutting it. That's a real time saver, took a picture but I'm at the picture limit for this post.

Well that's all for now, Cheers, Bx2 and Lexi Cat

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Happy 150th Birthday Canada!!!!!!!

Our lapel pins worn proudly today!
I hope you are able to celebrate Canada Day in some fashion. There are so many events across the country, it will be easy enough to choose one.

Dawna and Erwin were here for a couple of days as a rest stop on their way to southern France. Erwin said he expected to see Canadian flags in the flat and that we should have the neighbourhood here for a party! Good idea, didn't think of it ourselves. 

Cheers! Bev, Bruce and Lexi Cat